Bob Fisher, one of the world's top international yachting journalists, and certainly the top writer on the America's Cup, is in Newport, RI, USA for the sixth round of the America's Cup World Series.
Bob is a multihuller from way back, having won the 1967 Little America's Cup, with Peter Schneidau on Lady Helmsman, and has been covering the America's Cup since 1967.
Dear Diary – Day 4 - America's Cup World Series - Newport, RI, USA
Newport, RI, Sunday - Race Day 4.
The Gods have smiled on the Newport Chamber of Commerce - another hot, sunny day with a slowly building sea breeze - and a capacity crowd of 10,000 spectators at Fort Adams to see not only the final of the match racing and the culminating fleet race of the 2011/2012 season but also the air drop by the Red Bull air force - like gigantic seagulls falling from the sky.
It all improved when the all-Oracle final of the match racing began. Most of the pundits were tipping Jimmy Spithill to beat his boss, Russell Coutts, but the old master displayed great determination in the two-minutes of pre-start. It came down to the final manoeuvre with ten seconds to go. Coutts and his warriors snatched the inside overlap at the leeward end of the line and luffed hard causing Jimmy and his crew to slow. Coutts had outwitted his apprentice and charged away to the first mark with a big smile on his face.
Jimmy was not prepared to give anything away and chased hard but by the leeward mark Coutts was nine seconds ahead and while that may not seem much, it proved too much for Spithill to recover. The champagne moment was Coutts' and he savoured it. But Terry Hutchinson's Artemis Team had already clinched the season-long championship from Oracle Team USA - Spithill.
The scene was then set for the winner-take-all final of the fleet race in 11-12 knots of south-westerly. There was a significant difference in distance from the two ends of the line to the first mark -306 metres from the leeward end and 361 from the weather end. Both the Oracle Team boats were hovering near the leeward end, but Chris Draper with Luna Rossa- Piranha beat them both to the punch.
Coutts, however, had speed and led around the first turn from Dean Barker in Emirates Team New Zealand by two seconds, then came the two Luna Rossa boats and Spithill was last. He stayed there down the run and the next beat but at the weather mark, Cutts was penalised for not allowing Luna Rossa Piranha room to round the mark. ETNZ had dropped to last.
Around the bottom mark, Coutts had overcome his penalty to lead Luna Rossa Swordfish by seven seconds and there was place changing throughout the fleet. Draper made big gains on the next beat to head his teammate David Campbell-James in Luna Ross Swordfish and began to challenge Coutts for the lead and was just ten seconds behind as they went round the leeward gate. Draper went to the front when Coutts was penalised for going over the course boundary and led Coutts by 35 seconds at the windward mark.
It was all over bar the shouting and with Coutts fighting off the increasing challenge from Luna Rossa Swordfish, there was no way he was going to get back in front and finished 30 seconds behind the Luna Rossa Piranha skipper and seven seconds in front of Luna Rossa Swordfish. A fifth place for Spithill was enough to confirm the Oracle Team USA - Spithill as the overall Season's Champion by nine points from ETNZ, but this race win put Chris Draper's Luna Rossa - Piranha on top of the Newport Fleet Racing Championship.
The circus packs its tents in the next three days and the entire package will be shipped to San Francisco for the start of the 2012/2013 ACWS beginning August 21st.
by Bob Fisher
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9:13 PM Sun 1 Jul 2012GMT
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